The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities hired the head of a state correctional authority and former West Virginia state representative to serve as its third executive director since 1966.
Joseph A. DeLong of West Virginia beat out two in-state candidates and several others from across the country because of his management style and experience, according to South Windsor Town Manager and CCM President Matthew Galligan.
“He rose to the top. Cream of the crop,” Galligan said. He described DeLong, who earned his master’s degree in business from West Virginia University, as a “troubleshooter” responsible for turning around several state agencies during his 15 years as an executive in the public and private sectors.
DeLong has been the executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority for three years, building on experience as the Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. He served as a representative to the West Virginia House of Delegates from 2001-08.
DeLong said the correctional authority was a much-maligned agency when he took over. “I came into a place that is doing quite well now but had a lot of serious challenges,” he said.
Now, he looks forward to joining what he characterized as a well-established organization run by a “strong team of good people.”
DeLong’s view on the importance of local government was formed as a child when his grandfather served as county commissioner in the courthouse alongside his elementary school. He said he spent most mornings and evenings at that courthouse.
“I grew up in the type of lifestyle that recognized the value of local government and public service,” he said.
Even as the House majority leader in West Virginia, he said, it was clear to him that those who held local office had the toughest job with the most direct impact on constituents.
Galligan said the nationwide executive search was coordinated by The Mercer Group, a consulting firm for local governments. The search committee, led by Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul, reviewed 62 applications to narrow the field down to seven candidates, Galligan said.
DeLong will take over for interim Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wollschlager on April 1, a transition that began when former Executive Director and CEO James Finley announced his retirement early last year. Finley served as head for 7 years.
CCM Member and Public Relations Director Kevin Maloney said the municipal league’s first executive director, Joel Cogen, served for approximately 40 years.
As the leader of 155-member association of cities and towns, DeLong will be responsible for developing and carrying out programming and public policy advocacy initiatives as well as fostering relationships with business and governmental entities.
DeLong will take over on April 1. Until then, he remains at the correctional authority after having given 60 days’ notice.
“I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things,” he said. “I’ll work hard here right up till the end.”